I will attend the first Transport Council under the Latvian presidency taking place in Brussels on Friday 13 March.
There are only two main agenda items for discussion. The first item on the agenda will be a policy debate on the market pillar of the fourth railway package. This will cover the proposal to amend directive 2012/34/EU establishing a single European railway area, as regards the opening of the market for domestic passenger transport services by rail and the governance of the railway infrastructure. It will also cover the proposal to amend regulation (EC) No 1370/2007 concerning the opening of the market for domestic passenger transport services by rail. I welcome this opportunity to press for further liberalisation of the EU single market for rail through the market pillar of the fourth railway package.
The second item on the agenda will be a policy debate on the contribution to EU competitiveness, growth and jobs through transport policy developments, the challenges of attracting private investors to transport projects and the global competitiveness challenges that the EU transport sector is facing. I welcome the focus in the Commission President’s investment plan on reforms to raise growth prospects across Europe and the emphasis on increasing private sector investment. Structural reforms to complete the single market and to improve the incentives for investment are essential for Europe’s competitiveness and prosperity, and are a long-standing priority for Britain.
Under Any Other Business, the presidency will provide information on the forthcoming third ASEM Transport Ministers’ meeting in Latvia and the outcome of the conference on remotely piloted aircraft systems in Riga on 5 and 6 March. The Commission will provide information on civil aviation flights over conflict zones, where the UK supports measures to ensure wider understanding of the risks of operating over and into certain areas. The Commission will also deliver a presentation on the energy union. Lastly, the French and German delegations will present views on the ongoing EU-Gulf Co-operation Council aviation dialogue and associated strategies on safeguards for fair competition. By facilitating business-to-business and people-to-people links, international air transport benefits our wider economy and we seek, therefore, to minimise barriers to market access such as unfair competition. With this in mind, the Government are always keen to engage with our international partners on strategies for addressing such matters.